What is fluoride varnish?
Fluoride varnish is a procedure in which fluoride is applied to the teeth to prevent tooth decay, since it acts as a protective enamel against bacteria. This treatment can be carried out using rinses (mouthwashes), gels, varnishes and toothpastes. However, fluoride in large quantities is toxic and should therefore be avoided.
How does fluoride varnish work?
Fluoride varnish works in two ways:
- It centres on children's developing teeth and strengthens the enamel.
- It helps harden tooth enamel in adults.
After eating, acids in the mouth cause demineralisation, a dissolution of calcium and phosphorus below the tooth surface. In other cases, the complete opposite occurs, i.e. the saliva helps to replace the calcium and phosphate that keep your teeth strong. This process is known as remineralisation. In this way, the fluoride helps to strengthen the minerals and, consequently, the teeth.
How is fluoride varnish applied?
You can use daily toothpastes and mouthwashes with a low-fluoride concentration, which is the easiest way to apply the treatment. However, the technique most commonly used by specialists at the clinic is gel, which is placed in moulds that are specially adapted to your teeth and left on for a maximum of four minutes. During the procedure, the dentist will place a suction device in your mouth to prevent you from accidentally swallowing any gel. At the end of the procedure, you have to spit to eliminate the excess gel to avoid ingesting it.
How much fluoride varnish is recommended?
If the water in your area contains fluoride, just using a regular toothbrush and a suitable toothpaste is enough to prevent tooth decay in children and adults with healthy teeth. However, if the water in your area has a low fluoride content, the dentist will prescribe the amount of fluoride that needs to be added during regular brushing.